You Want Me To Be a Servant!
October 1, 2020
Early in his earthly ministry Jesus said, “The Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve.” One of the definitions I found for servant was: “A person serving as an agent for another to attend to the wants and needs of others.” In our culture we don’t have a good understanding of servants because few of us have ever had any exposure to those employed as servants. We have some understanding from films or books they have been portrayed in but it is not common in our culture to be exposed to servants.
Over and over throughout the Gospels, Jesus shows us what God is like by serving. God wants to be known through servant-hood. Thus, when Jesus describes His return in glory at the end of the world, He says, “Happy are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. I tell you solemnly, he will put on an apron, sit them down at table and wait on them.” (Lk.12:37)
So we begin to see in the Gospels this image of Jesus as a servant. This model doesn’t fit well with what our world values nor what most of us strive to become. When you ask a child what do you want to be when you grow up? How many say, “Oh I want to be a servant!” Would that sit well with you as a parent? How many classes do you think they have at your University on Servant hood?
In his book Abba’s Child, Brennan Manning writes, “ What a scandalous and unprecedented reversal of the world’s values! To prefer to be the servant rather than the lord of the household is the path of downward mobility in an upwardly mobile culture. To taunt the idols of prestige, honor, and recognition, to refuse to take oneself seriously or to take seriously others who take themselves seriously, to dance to the tune of a different drummer, and to freely embrace the servant lifestyle-these are the attitudes that bear the stamp of authentic discipleship. Then he ends this by saying, “Servanthood is not an emotion or mood or feeling; it is a decision to live like Jesus. It has nothing to do with what we feel; it has everything to do with what we do-humble service.”
In my mind when I think about Jesus and how he went about in the ordinariness of his day I picture him interacting with people much like we do. He wasn’t always healing the sick, preaching, raising the dead or floating around with his head in the clouds. Come on, he was human, much like us. And we are called to be like him. Well, how do we do that?
For me, this is how it works. I try to live my day understanding that I am loved and I am called to love others. Sometimes I do well at this, other times I don’t. But I am learning that to be like Jesus is to try to respond everyday as he would respond.
Here’s an example: A couple of weeks ago I was with some friends over in Saint Ynez Valley here in California. We were on an outing and as we were walking up a dirt road a lady was walking down some steps when she tripped and fell on her face right in front of us. Her friend immediately helped her sit up but it was obvious she had twisted her ankle and was in great pain.
My first reaction was, “Oh I should pray for her.” But I hesitated because I immediately thought, “What if she would be embarrassed by that, or we are out in public with all these people around observing what just happened, what if it doesn’t work, etc.” But then I just went for it. I walked over to her, bent down and said, “Could I pray for your ankle?” She responded in a surprised tone, OK! I asked if I could put my hand on her ankle and that was ok so I prayed for maybe 20 seconds. Nothing changed.
It was still painful and she could not put any weight on it. I asked if I could pray again. That was okay so I prayed another short prayer and when I asked her how it was she said, “ I think the pain is gone.” She then stood up putting weight on her ankle. She was surprised that the pain was gone as she walked over to the car, her friend had just pulled up in, jumped in and drove off. We then continued on our way as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened. I think that’s the way it should be. I think that’s the way Jesus did it. Not a big deal, but just react to life, as he would react to life. To me, that’s what it means to be a servant.
Pray with me that this Corona Virus will end soon. We are all finding it very inconvenient and rather tiring of how it has disrupted our lives. Thank you.
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